Being a teacher is usually one of the most rewarding career paths anyone can take. This is especially true for early childhood teaching jobs. As the starting point of education, preschool teachers literally help children understand the world. Being a preschool teacher allows you to give a child a promising start in their education.
Teaching one child is no simple task, let alone an entire classroom of young learners. Preschool teachers are responsible for providing education to children who are between 3 and 5 years. They do so by instructing them through activities that are meant to promote intellectual, social, and physical growth needed for kindergarten, primary school, and other child development facility.
Preschool teachers teach basic skills like number & letter recognition, motor skills, social skills, shape, color, and personal hygiene, through structured learning and play. In addition to the above responsibilities, preschool teachers introduce children to schedules and routines, while providing a safe place for them to explore their interests, learn, and grow.
Now that you know some of the things you’ll be required to do as a preschool teacher, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons to see if it’s the right career path for you. Ultimately, if you have an interest and passion for helping children, then being a preschool teacher is worth considering.
10 Pros of Being a Preschool Teacher
1) An opportunity to make a difference
A preschool teacher is majorly involved in teaching very young children, hence playing a critical role in their intellectual development. This provides them with an opportunity to design and shape the childhood path of these children. As a preschool teacher, you’ll have a good platform to impact the lives of young children on a personal level, depending on their needs.
2) Easy to qualify and progress
The academic qualifications for preschool training are relatively low compared to teachers at higher levels, making this an ideal career path for any local or expat. An aspiring preschool teacher can get the job even with low high school grades, and upgrade while on the job. All you’ll need to start working is a basic teaching certification. You’ll be able to enjoy more perks once you advance your academic qualifications.
3) An exciting work environment
Preschool teachers experience a wide variety of challenges and activities every day, which makes learning fun and interactive at preschool. A preschool teacher’s life is a full circle of learning, experience loaded with numerous and different subjects, as well as interaction with children from varied ethnic backgrounds. As a preschool teacher, you’ll never have a dull day.
4) Contact with adults is minimal
Preschools are, naturally, centers of learning for young children, meaning teachers have limited communication and interaction with grown-ups. This comes with a unique experience as children are easily reachable and more agile compared to adults. In as much as you’ll interact with colleagues and the children’s family members, most of your daily activities will revolve around the children.
5) A lot of time off
Preschool children can fully concentrate for very short periods of time. This means that preschool teachers only work for a few hours in a day, not to mention the time off they get during the weekends and holidays. Generally, both private and public preschools operate for about nine months in a year, giving teachers more time to focus on their personal matters.
6) Gain multi-tasking skills
In addition to teaching children, preschool teachers double up as mentors, nurses, confidants, and so on. They also have to stay organized and keen to keep the class in order. This allows them to master numerous skills, including goal-setting, organizational, listening, and multitasking among others. All these skills will help you become a better person holistically.
7) Interpersonal skills development
Being a parent of one or two children is very demanding; now imagine handing ten children or more at once? Teaching in preschool requires high levels of patience, emotional intelligence, communication skills, active listening, dependability, and for one to be social. After being a preschool teacher for a while, and interacting daily with children, you are bound to gain high levels of emotional stability and general interpersonal skills.
8) Opportunity to rediscover yourself
Teaching preschool requires a lot of creativity. This will allow you to rediscover most of your unexploited gifts and talents, which, in turn, offers more fulfillment and satisfaction with your job. As a preschool teacher, every day presents an opportunity to learn new things about yourself and others, making you more mindful to appreciate your job.
9) A platform to mentor parents
Most parents may not get enough time to understand the needs of their children due to their life commitments like work or social engagements. Consequently, preschool teachers happen to understand the children better due to the long hours of bonding during learning. As such, they can be a good source of insights to parents regarding their children’s needs. Particularly, expats working in foreign countries can use preschool teachers as the best advisers to understand their children’s progress and any other fundamental changes.
10) Ability to develop healthy habits
Part of your job as a preschool teacher will be to teach children healthy habits such as healthy eating, physical activity, brushing their teeth, reading every day, drinking plenty of water, and proper sleep, among other things. The best way to make sure preschoolers learn these healthy habits is by being a role model. Needless to say, this can serve as a good platform to practice healthy eating habits, which will keep you fit and healthy in the long run.
10 Cons Being a Preschool Teacher
1) Physical exhaustion
Preschool children are constantly full of energy and high levels of curiosity. As a result, preschool teachers are constantly on their feet as they try to keep order and ensure safety. Additionally, a preschool teacher will be required to bend down from time to time and even pick up the children. All these physical activities can leave a teacher quite exhausted after the day’s work.
2) High dependence levels
Preschool children are obviously young and need help with basic daily activities such as going to the bathroom, navigating around school hallways, and removing/putting on clothes, among other things. Teachers have to attend to these needs, which vary from child to child at every given moment. Because of that, teachers are at times unable to commit fully to their main job, which is to teach. This can be frustrating, especially to teachers who may feel like they are not fully productive at their main job description.
3) External issues from parents
Some parents give teachers unnecessary pressure due to the high expectations they have for their children, while others don’t even care to help their children with homework. Either way, this can make your teaching job harder than it needs to be. You’ll also encounter parents who solicit or demand preferential treatment for their children. This can be unnecessarily overwhelming and put you in a very awkward position with the other kids and parents.
4) Children varied abilities
Children demonstrate varied learning abilities at any level of education. This is contributed by many factors, including the level of parental involvement, stability at home, and the simple fact that kids develop at different rates. Teachers also have to deal with varied emotional issues from the children. For instance, some children will throw tantrums constantly when they can’t get what they want, while others can be rather violent to the extent of hitting other children. Solving all these emotional outbursts can be physically and emotionally draining.
5) Dealing with special needs
It’s at the preschool ages that most abnormalities in children are often detected. For this reason, preschool teachers must know how to identify children with special needs and ensure they’re assisted the earliest. They also need to have general knowledge about how to support such kids in school. You may also encounter children with behavioral issues caused by physical or psychological abuse at home, or even those suffering from mental illness or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. These are all added responsibilities that you’ll have to take on despite not having the proper training on how to handle them.
6) Financial challenges
While teaching in preschool seems like a great career path for locals and expats, financial policies in schools may be discouraging. Many preschools are often strapped for cash, causing management to implement austerity measures such as reduction of benefits, no salary increment, not to mention, increased class size without any increment of resources. This makes teaching in preschools harder than it needs to be.
7) Equity and equality balance
Preschool teachers often become propagators of social stigmas such as bullying and categorization –whether consciously or unconsciously. This can occur due to the varied characters of the children and the influence of parents. As a preschool teacher, you’ll have kids from different backgrounds, social classes, cultures, and beliefs in your classroom. It can be challenging to find an equal ground for all of them so none of them feels left out.
8) Unequal compensation
Preschool teachers are involved in so much more than teaching. Though indirectly, they take up other roles such as mentorship, parenting, and nursing among others in their line of work. They, however, do not receive compensation that is commensurate to their work. Money shouldn’t be the only reason you want to be a preschool teacher, but we all need it to live comfortably.
9) Feeling suffocated
Being with preschool children requires high levels of concentration and presence for the class to run smoothly. A break as short as a bathroom call may be very tricky to access, considering what kids can do when left unattended for just a few minutes. A preschool teacher will often feel overwhelmed and trapped in a classroom, craving for is a small break to exhale.
10) Incompatibility with routine lovers
As stated earlier, preschool teachers don’t experience dull days given the adventurous nature of their job. This kind of set-up may be good for those who love to explore new things, but not as attractive for those who love routine and perfection. If you are that kind of person, then you may not enjoy your job fully to deliver your best.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.